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I have this question in my JLPT practise book:

明日{あした}は雨{あめ}が降{ふ}りそうな_____がする。

A 予報{よほう}  B 予知{よち}  C 予感{よかん} D 予測{よそく}

I chose A, mostly because of seeing 予報{よほう} used a lot when talking about weather. The dictionary backs me up on that by defining it as "forecast."

But the book says the answer is C. Is this because the use of そう means that the prediction of tomorrow's weather is a vague feeling? 予感{よかん} seems to me a sort of vague notion.

I'm not clear on this, because I thought そう could mean "appear" in a more neutral sense, in which case, 予報{よほう} should fit just as well, shouldn't it?

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one cannot ~がする a 予報 but you can a 予感 much like you can have においがする –  Flaw Nov 21 '11 at 10:00
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You need to translate the sentence in your head before you decide which answer you're going to pick (if you're not entirely sure).

First read it without the gap filled in and try to guess what it wants to say.

The example sentence here approximately wants to say "It looks as if it's going to rain tomorrow."

The information of "looks as if" is already contained in "雨が降りそう" but as it happens, in your example they want to turn this general (objective) sentence into a subjective sentence. This information is contained in the "~がする" at the end of the sentence. There are many examples of expressions of personal feelings in combination with "~がする", for example:

悪い気がする

悪い気分がする

Xな感じがする

and many more, in particular ~予感がする.

Now let's see why 予報 doesn't work here. As you pointed out, 予報 means "(weather) forecast". Using this in the gap, the sentence would roughly translate as follows:

"The forecast makes as if it was going to rain tomorrow."

Note that I purposefully translated it as closely to the original as possible with the result of it being ungrammatical. This is because the "~がする" at the end points you to a personal feeling which then used with "weather forecast" ends up not fitting together because "having" a forecast is not a personal feeling.

Edit

So to more precisely answer your question:

明日は雨が降りそうです。  

Is the objective version and translates as "It looks as if it's going to rain tomorrow."

And

明日は雨が降りそうな予感がする。

Is the subjective version and translates as "I think it looks as if it's going to rain tomorrow."

~そう can always be used to say "looks as if". For example

この建物は地震で傾きそうです。

Hope this helps.

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I almost want to mark this as correct for helping to define the meaning and use of そう. However, I just don't think I can because I strongly disagree with the advise that says to translate before answering. My goal is to speak and understand Japanese on its own terms, not to translate it. –  Dave M G Nov 22 '11 at 3:24
    
@DaveMG: Yes, that's how I speak and learn languages, too. And I think that's how you should do it. But I thought it might be easier during the exam, which is presumably a stress situation, if you do it this way. You won't have much time and on top of that you have to copy your answers onto the answer sheet. –  Matt N. Nov 22 '11 at 12:33
    
@DaveMG: How you do it doesn't matter but what I meant to say was that you should first try to guess what the sentence is trying to say before you fill in the gap. –  Matt N. Nov 22 '11 at 12:34
    
Fair enough. :) –  Dave M G Nov 22 '11 at 16:42
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